Over the last two years, homeowners accrued about $21,300 in home equity, $8,700 of which occurred over the past 12 months, according to the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). That’s an average of $10,650 per year, enough to pay back their closing costs and put them almost halfway to eliminating private mortgage insurance they may have.
Equity is only one reason people buy homes, partially explaining why home sales continue to be brisk. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said that a combination of lower mortgage rates, more inventory, rising income and higher consumer confidence are driving sales.
Meanwhile, prices are rising. In February 2019, the median existing (pre-owned) home price was $249,500, up nearly 4% year-over-year.
However, rising prices aren’t discouraging homebuyers. According to a recent quarterly NAR survey, more Americans believe that now is a good time to purchase a home, citing the improved economy as an incentive. Yun explained that other factors are spurring buyer optimism, including more available homes for sale and stabilizing home price trends. Data gleaned from electronic lockboxes report increased foot traffic at open houses.
Yun also notes that mortgage affordability in 2019's first quarter was favorable to homebuyers, because the Federal Reserve isn’t going to raise overnight borrowing rates to banks, which contributed to mortgage rate declines and making homeownership slightly more affordable for homebuyers. Mortgage rates remain at historically low levels.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to buy a home, the outlook appears promising, especially if more sellers decide to put their homes on the market.